Imagine you are suffering from a bad headache. You want to be tough and pull through it without any external help but the pain is overwhelming so you cave and go to the pharmacy. You have a decision to make. You can either buy the prominent, nationally renowned brand-name medication, or the generic, no-name painkiller that is cheaper.
Despite a lingering doubt about how effective the no-name medication will be, you go ahead and purchase it, as you don’t feel like spending the extra money for a simple painkiller. You come home, take a pill with a glass of water and wait for it to kick in. An hour goes by and you are still feeling the pain. Annoyed by this, you take another pill and cross your fingers. Another hour goes by and the headache is still there. Tired by this ordeal, you give up and just lie down and close your eyes for a nap.
Now think about this scenario
You go to the pharmacy and purchase the most expensive painkiller you can find. You come home; pop one of those pills and boom! In less than an hour your headache is gone.
This is a simple yet powerful example of how expectations shape our perceptions and the way we experience things in life. We expect the expensive medication to be more effective even though the active ingredient in these two hypothetical bottles is exactly the same.